Encyclopedia Britannica educates the next generation via mobile app.

encyclopediabritannicaEncyclopedia Britannica has been teaching history since 1798. Generations have turned its pages to write countless research papers and enrich one’s knowledge of the world around them. It is written by and continuously edited by 100 editors. The most recent and final written version was published in 2010. In 2012, publishers announced that the 2010 edition would be the last in print. The move to digital includes a weekly, monthly or annual subscription fee to access the information from the website or mobile versions. The volume-based set  can be found in most libraries and schools.

I consider myself (and others my age) unique in the sense that we grew up with books and have seen the transition to digital. I remember flipping through the pages of our encyclopedia set for school projects when I was younger. It was enlightening to learn how tornados formed and why the sky was blue from those volumes. I remember using Encyclopedia Britannica at school when we were learning how to create research papers and what a primary source  for research was. Encyclopedia Britannica was my first research method.

I remember when the Internet first came into being and how teachers were concerned that students were not using accurate sources of information when doing research online. I was so excited when Encyclopedia Britannica became available online. Then, I was let down when I discovered the subscription fee.

Because of its usefulness, it’s not surprise to me that Encyclopedia Britannica made the move to the world of mobile apps. The base app is free to download for iOS. There are several preloaded articles that are ‘free’ to view, but you quickly find yourself looking for something important only to be met with a subscription warning. I’m not a fan of subscription-based services especially when there are so many other options out there for free information. When I was looking up the history of Encyclopedia Britannica, I actually used Wikipedia.

The app is well-designed. It’s easy to understand, which is nice because the printed volumes were always easy to use. My favorite feature is the “on this day” tab. I’ve been fascinated by ‘on this day in history’ trivia for many years and this feature brings the trivia to my finger tips. This feature appears to be free. When you tap on the icon, you are taken to a page that lists several events that happened on that day. When you select a specific event, the app takes you to the article associated with that event. That’s when you are hit with the subscription warning.

Encyclopedia Britannica is a nice mobile app, but I don’t like that you don’t have access unless you have a subscription. I’d much rather pay a fee for the app than a recurring subscription.